LAHORE - The key solution for ensuring sufficient poultry products everywhere is to study the indigenous breeds, chalking out strategies for their efficient use in their respective home tracts, as modern breeds do not possess several characters and cannot be spread easily all across the globe, especially in the third world countries and remote areas where electricity and other facilities are not yet available.

According to poultry industry experts and researchers, these characters include colored plumage which acts as camouflage against predators, disease resistance due to natural selection since ages and broodiness which is essential for hatching chicks under conditions where artificial incubation is not affordable and sometimes not possible.

Phenotypic characterization is the basic step to document the characteristics of breeds and prevent them from extinction or further adulteration. Recently the researchers at UVAS have phenotypically characterized the indigenous Aseel and Naked neck chickens of Pakistan and found great biodiversity available in these breeds. Promotion of these breeds as a potential candidate for backyard egg and meat production can help improve the food security in rural households of Pakistan

A group of researchers from Department of Livestock Production, including Amjad Iqbal, Afzal Ali, Khalid Javed, Muhammad Akram and Muhammad Usman, collected specimen from all over the Pakistan and characterized the two important but neglected breeds phenotypically based on morphological data according to the FAO guidelines.

The researchers have also set up Genetic Resource Centre for Indigenous Chicken (GenReCIC) since 2009 and have been successful in conservation and breeding of Aseel and Naked neck chickens. Since then there have been several research articles and conference abstracts published from the GenReCIC research facilities.

The researchers claimed that these breeds can be used as excellent meat and egg producers in the backyard poultry production systems and selective breeding can enhance their productive potential. The researchers said that the Aseel chicken which is mostly famous for its fighting ability is the ancestor of modern day broiler and a good meat producer whereas Naked-neck chicken is well known among the researchers for its heat tolerance and egg producing ability. They termed it unfortunate that in Pakistan, we don’t have much research on these indigenous breeds and this situation leaves us with no information even about what these birds look like and how much meat or eggs they can produce.  Mostly this knowledge is left with a few people who keep these chickens as a hobby.

Therefore, it is essential to document the phenotypic appearance as well as productive attributes of these indigenous breeds on scientific grounds. The researchers found a multitude of feather colors on various body parts, patterns on the feathers, body size, eye colors, earlobe shapes and colors and shank colors in these chickens and believe that this information is valuable for use in future conservation, breeding strategies and to promote the use of indigenous breeds which have many characters suitable for the backyard production systems under scavenging conditions.